Carburetor could spell trouble for Wallace

`Potential problems' cited

Elliott `popular' pull-out

Daytona notebook

Auto Racing

February 14, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Rusty Wallace was having a pretty good day yesterday in his half of the Twin 125-Mile qualifying race - until post-race inspection.

Wallace finished fourth in the second race at Daytona International Speedway, but afterward, NASCAR officials discovered "potential problems" with his carburetor.

A NASCAR spokesman said the investigation will continue through today's final Winston Cup practice.

"The outcome will not affect the list of competitors in the 500," said the NASCAR official.

Wallace, who is scheduled to start eighth in Sunday's Daytona 500, could be penalized and placed at the back of the field.

Elliott wants to share

Driver Bill Elliott has been voted the most popular Winston Cup driver 16 times. Yesterday, he removed his name from this year's competition.

Elliott, who has had a lock on the award, also declined to run in 2001, when Dale Earnhardt was killed, stepping aside so the seven-time champion could be honored.

"I've had such a loyal fan base for so many years, it's been incredible," Elliott said. "They've been so behind me, such a part of my career. Sometimes, it takes honors like Most Popular Driver to realize the power of [that support], and it's time for another driver to enjoy that feeling with the fans."

Last season, Elliott won the honor over Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Fans can vote for this season's choice at www.most populardriver.com

Teresa Earnhardt speaks

Dale Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, sat down with NBC's Katie Couric in her first prime-time interview since losing her husband almost two years ago. The interview will air on Dateline NBC at 10 tonight.

Here is an excerpt:

Couric: "When you and Taylor, your daughter, maybe have some private moments, I mean, it must - do you ever just cry together or do you cry by yourself, just from the sheer sadness of having to live without the man you loved?"

Earnhardt: "Well, I, yeah. I might, I might do something like that for about 10 seconds. And I hate it. I hate it so bad, feeling bad, that I just turn it off. I mean, I miss him, and I always will. Just terribly. But I'm not going to feel bad about it. I'm going to feel glad about what I had."

D. Waltrip's numbers

Darrell Waltrip was talking about a lot of things the other day, including winning the Daytona 500. He won it in 1989 on his 20th try. And he must have felt honor-bound to defend his performances at the track.

"OK," he said, "it took me 20 years to win the 500. But it wasn't like I couldn't run good on this racetrack. Do you know how many times I've won on this racetrack? You don't, do you?"

"No," came the reply.

"Guess," he said.

"Less than 34," said a reporter, using the record number of times Dale Earnhardt won here.

"That's a pretty good guess," he said. "But it was 19. I won 19 times here."

Ah, well, Waltrip has won a lot here, but even he didn't get the number right. According to the official statistics, he has won 14 times.

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